Been Reading Issue 20

If I told you I’d just read an autobiography about the life and career of a salesman, that’d sound pretty dull, right? Not so, in this case, and mostly because this guy was so much more than just a salesman, and because what he was selling means something to me… and to us all.

JK Kelly – I don’t know what the JK stands for; perhaps he’s just like JK Rowling – started out his career looking as if he’d be heading into his family’s funeral home business. Fortunately for us (if not for the recently deceased of Pennsylvania) he didn’t, and, by way of a stint as a motorsports photojournalist and a PR gig for Darrell Waltrip’s NASCAR team, he wound up working for a fairly new start-up in the world of specialist racing fuels – VP, a company he continually refers to as the David to Goliaths such as Sunoco.

As the north-eastern VP rep and supplier, JK spent lots of time on the road, in the air, and in the pit lane at all sorts of motor racing venues and events. This means that he has a wealth of stories and anecdotes to relate, mostly involving the Herculean effort of competing against the Big Boys to establish VP as the global brand it is today, and how you balance long hours, long trips and long distances against a home and family life (spoiler alert: you don’t). In amongst this, of course, there are tales involving delighted/furious racers, teams and promoters, tequila, bonfires, inflatable sheep, guns, Mexican brothels, Israeli checkpoint soldiers and goats in bondage gear.

JK is one of those guys who can tell a good tale, the sort of guy you’d like to take to the pub on a Friday afternoon, stick a pint in front of him and say, “Right, start telling stories,” knowing full well that you’d emerge from the pub helplessly inebriated, utterly penniless but fully entertained, only to find that it’s Monday lunchtime. There’s no great element of exposé, no mud slinging, you won’t learn the chemical secrets of VP’s race fuels, but you will have a really good read that you’ll struggle to put down.

Fuelin’ Around, by JK Kelly, is available in softback or eBook from Amazon.co.uk, RRP £9.99.